October Nineteenth


     Fall is fallen. The red trees are red and not faking green. The yellow trees have slipped in overnight and tower above humans chastened by diminished daylight.   It is not light at ten or nine or eight in the evening. It is not light at six in the morning. Our world is getting closed down.

     Two more weeks of electoral insanity, to be followed probably by lawsuits and recounts and insults and assaults. I have friends who have lost half their imagined wealth in the space of a year or two.   Our world is getting closed down.

    So the screen gets darker at the top and darker at the bottom and the light in the middle seems wider, perhaps.  Maybe that’s why ceremonies get more complex in Winter.  The light side of the year is all wacky fun and the dark side is severely ceremonial.    The dark is narrower and wider.  You have to stand back, all the way behind the last row of seats, leaning against the back wall, watching the little figures in the light and listening for their words.  It all means something, no doubt.  We await the reviews, the steam geysering out from the vents, the newsies dodging the delivered bundles, the playwright ripping open the edition to find the page.  It’s two in the morning and the reviews can’t be good.  The damn thing tanked in the third act.  People were slipping out the doors, giggling, right past the playwright still leaning against the back wall, no longer taking notes.  There was a stab at spirited applause, but it fell short and actors were left at the last call ducking their way back under a falling curtain to the silence of people standing up and looking for the exits.

      Or, there could be a Democratic victory and both houses of Congress and the battered but now powerful Executive Branch could line up and force the McCaniacs and Bushmen and Palindromes back into their huts for a moment while the foolish, well-meaning and left-leaning leftouts try to figure out what to do. You wonder at the Obama Dilemma.

     Cheneybush have so returned secret power to the presidency that The Kid would have to think once or twice about relinquishing what they’ve left him.

      Faust for President.

27 thoughts on “October Nineteenth

  1. A New Deal with the Devil, then? The Kid saved, in the end, by the Tramp? Looking down the mutant magnum barrel of a World Gone Wrong, he’ll have to ask himself if he’s feeling “lucky” (faust). The only ‘light’ at the end of that tunnel is the flash when the bullet erupts from its jacket. Does he even see it, or is he already dead? I’ve been thinking about Melville’s last novel “The Confidence Man” (the prose, Phil, I find, precedent or antecedent to a worthy successor of prose in “Beaver Teeth”) with its chapter titles, such as CHAPTER XXXIII. “Which may pass for whatever it may prove to be worth”. It is still the Last Novel. And boy, does it last! It reads to me like F.K. on the Mississippi; it’s where the twain shall meet. Worlds have closed down before. Which world is this one, do they say, the fourth? Time getting near, is it, to the time for another ascent, another climb up out of the horizontal dark? The other day, to L., I called it the ‘zero effect’. Take any number, whole or fraction, times it by zero, get zero. A truth stranger than faction.

    The yellows, the reds, the orange oranges: how the other half leafs. (By “half” I mean here, of course, the other 99% who live on Up Against The Wall street). But I could happily bound myself into a haiku about Fall and consider myself the king of infinite space.

    I’d quote a verse or two from B.D.’s “Everything Is Broken” (both released versions). But that is just too obvious. Same with “Dignity”. Or “Highwater (For Charley Patton)”. So it’s a write-in vote for Old Man Coyote of the Talking Animal Party and a vote not for Kermit the Fraud of the Puppet Party. “The mountains and rivers remain,” photo of Sacred Mountain recites in refrain with Tu Fu.

    Phil, will there be a separate Unknown section for All Souls/Halloween? There is a very short story by Robert Walser I want to post. I’ll post it in this section, if that’s where it belongs.

    (They call me) Mellow Nome-a

  2. I lost one of the two nickles I used to rub together. I am a Palindrone with Obama Fever so everywhere I turn, there is nothing but hope! Bleu Skies! Sumshine! I am so damn happy I could shit bubbles.

    I hung in the hammock yesterday and read Chapters 20 and 21 and it was all leafy, highlighted and dreamy like an Alaskan Governor’s hairstyle. I underlined “the future is not all balled up inside the present,” and “Tell Boney to let me use his van…” If you think titles aren’t key, just consider that “I Am the Drifter!” was in touble from the git go. And then the sun wasn’t setting, the horizon was risin’, and I had to go in. My world is starting to close early too. I think it may be tired.

    Buster Move

  3. While the dollar cheapens, going through the motion of pooling your resources has its own magic, in-a-sense. If you could only keep it long enough before our country debtors come calling and the buying power is reduced to some unspecified small amount.

    So, this is how the Roman Empire fell. Only, we don’t realize the parallel, being so close to the subject when it happens. Let’s see. It’s not the Mongols or the Barbarians. Who could it be? Possibly us, we have recognized the enemy from within and it is us. What are the terms of surrender, have not taking any advice in the past? This is a most tricky dialogue, where everything is not forth coming and easily fixable.

  4. This, from a current essay by Michael Hudson, refers to what Rich refers:

    “This phenomenon of debt deflation has occurred throughout history, not only over the modern business cycle but for centuries at a time. The most self-destructive example of financial short-termism is the decline and fall of the Roman Empire into debt bondage and ultimately into a Dark Age. The political turning point was the violent takeover of the Senate by oligarchic creditors who murdered the debtor-oriented reformers led by the Gracchi brothers in 133 BC, picking up benches and using them as rams to push the reformers over the cliff on which the political assembly was located. A similar violent overthrow occurred in Sparta a century earlier when its kings Agis and Cleomenes sought to annul debts so as to reverse the city-state’s economic polarization. The creditor oligarchy exiled and killed the kings, as Plutarch described in his Parallel Lives of the Illustrious Greeks and Romans. This used to be basic reading among educated people, but today these events have all but disappeared from most people’s historical memory. A knowledge of the evolution of economic structures has been replaced by a mere series of political personalities and military conquests.”

    Mark: a poem by Czeslaw Milosz for and about the window of horizons, vertical and horizontal–the risen and unrisen, now/then, here/there, this not that:


    I looked out the window at dawn and saw a young apple tree
    translucent in brightness.

    And when I looked out at dawn once again, an apple tree laden with
    fruit stood there.

    Many years had probably gone by but I remember nothing of what
    happened in my sleep.

    –Nickel Danger

  5. I used to be an optimist, but life beat it out of me, at first relentlessly and then in a series of surprise attacks. And yet, as I ponder the probable next administration, I suffer from that dreaded word of late, Hope. Not hope that everything will be better, but hope that some things will improve and that the unending assault upon the community, on the very idea of community, that has prevailed over the last 30 years or more will abate, at least temporarily. Perhaps that is naive, perhaps I am a fool, but the glimmer of hope and optimism is pleasant, and that which is pleasing in life grows rare.

    Not to pick nits with Mark Hudson, but if the tipping point in Rome came in 133 BC, a century or more before its growth reached its limits, then we must place our peak sometime during the administration of Chester A. Arthur. That being said, the historical moment always belongs to the oligarchy, and in the absence of a functioning oligarchy, as in the early days of the French Revolution known as The Terror, a new oligarchy arises. We poor debtors always get the muddy end of the stick.

    The Fall of Rome was really more of a slide, and not the fast, fun kind like at a waterpark. Instead, it was more like the most dismal LA mudslide, starting slowly, almost imperceptibly, and gaining momentum until its final, thundering crash.

    The key point to me was always when the Senate abdicated its responsibilities and turned itself into a rubberstamp of the desires of the new Emporer, Augustus. Of course we saw exactly that happen here in the first six years of the Bush Junta.

    And yet amidst the sadness and the horror, a tiny flame of hope glimmers.

    Knott A. Cassandra

  6. A Plugged Nickel Dreadful

    It was July 27, 2002 in the year 2008, a year first thought of in the nineteenth century but not written about until the 1900’s. Could time itself be used as…fuel? What once had been dismissed as a crude question had—yes, with the passage of time, been refined. Its time had come, one could say. But was there enough left to get it to its destination? Urgency had gone right ahead to where fuels feared to tread: some were saying Peak Time had already been reached and surpassed. Mathematicians’ hyper-rationalized models suggested the need for more…models. And borrowed time, well, it was collapsing and disappearing faster than it could be imagined out of nothing more than the wish to imagine there was more of it.

    People already had enough troubles without having to worry about whether the continuity underlying their troubles would continue. The question used to be: will I still be here when I get there? Reality had foreclosed on that question. The here in there had become so devalued that people were realizing they already were there, but without having gotten anywhere. That meant the whole meaning of getting there had changed, and probably forever, or as much of it as can be contained in a lifetime.

    But ‘what if?’ others dared to think and then to ask aloud, in print, on TV and radio. What if time itself could be used as fuel, and fuel, in turn, could be used as currency, a self-renewing, self-sustaining currency, because it was time-based? Time whose dimensonality was in question, whose nature was transcendent of geographical and political boundaries, and whose quantifiableness was only an abstraction of a given perception of its durationality. Abstraction it was posited was the mental-motor of technique. Therefore, so the argument went, couldn’t there be a technique that was all abstraction and an abstraction that was all technique? Then wouldn’t time’s currency fully back itself (with think how much in reserve with all that Past it has!)? Time could easily take a mortgage on its own future and pay us all back with how it compounds itself durationally.

    …That’s all I got. It’s a one act. Boo, hiss.

    Improvised but not nationalized,

    MoFo Stopitplease

  7. I am packaging up the time I have to share with time I will never get back and then leveraging it all against the good old days. I will loan you two weeks but expect to get back 144 days.

    I checked out some of the bubbles. They are shiny, shiny, shiny with little square rainbows on the surface. I am practicing my underlined lines for use at the company Christmas party. I am ready for Peek Time.

    As far as I can tell, the fall of Rome had a lot to do with some of the things that went on in the HBO show of the same name, which was a guilty pleasure for me and the missus. No wonder things came apart with all the swords and sex and such.

    Fulbright “Fully” Bushel

  8. Time keeps on slipping, into the future.

    I can’t remember the artist whose song that is. War? Ah. Just looked it up and it’s Steve Miller. Odd, you think of it as one of those socially conscious funk anthems.

    Time as currency. As current as time. Time as current. Timetricity.

    Timetricity bought and sold and packaged and leveraged. Time as power. Time as fuel. I’m back to the beginning.

    I’m hopeful these days as well. I hope, that’s my deal. I hope.

    Rome keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ … into the future.

    Yeah, you could buy shares of Rome’s slide and you could bet on Rome’s fall.

    And Halloween will have it’s own post. I’ll get right on it. Got to look at all the pictures from last year of spooky pumpkins, that’ll be fun. The Big Blonde’s Monumental Birthday is on monday next. Friends and I are making secret phonecalls. Secret delivery’s are upon us. Secret plans. She is veering back and forth on both sides of her own time. I wonder if I’ve got an appropriate Halloween picture of her. No, I don’t. She just looks good no matter where you take her picture. If I could find the picture of Bodie the dog in his devil hat, I’d post it, but we’ve now got something like eleven thousand pictures and finding anything is a serious problem. Time, that’s the problem. Oh, yeah. Time.

    It’s dimensional.

    J. Retardo

  9. I just hope that someone gets my Message in a Bubble. Houses that as predicated turned out to be bubbles. Our universal ‘Place’ is a Bubble, some say. They call it “Local Bubble”, “the cavity which contains the Solar System”. We’re all locals in this Bubbleverse! Foreclosure and eviction from that Bubble coming soon to a neighborhood that is us? In the Next Bubble, we’ll be on our own?

    Some people still say and act like there’s Time to burn. But I say disconnect the fuse of the faust of doom. (Fausts that live in bubble-houses shouldn’t throw the deals they made at others.) The bubbles are gone but their bursts live on. I’m hoping that every burst has a rainbow lining.

    Time, then, is the curved surface of the Bubble. Bubbles are the toast of Topology talk. I love it when Topology talks bubbles. A bubble can be seen as “a window on the early universe”. (Proof, I guess that it’s the early universe that gets the bubble.) Listen, for example, to this: “The bubble topology appears when nonlinear collapse occurs on one principal axis. When collapse takes place along all three, we find a “clump” topology.”

    Clumps of locals, that’s us. It was the bubble of times, it was the burst of times.

    Time slips and falls on the future. It was all Rome’s Fallt. Then we had to go and fall for that Fallt all over again. Now pumpkin-headed hordes, evil-grinning bubblebursters, with “switchblade pitchforks” will be after us, wanting to scoop out our insides, to put in their own candles, burning them at both ends.

    In Hebrew, Time is a ‘Place’, a permutation of the ‘letters of Being’, events-with-bodies. Isn’t that nice? Phil, I’ve twice or more commented that in “Beaver Teeth” (as I read it) Place is a character, a subject in the story, and not only an object, a where of the story. Daniel Sibony wrote this (a found translation, not mine): “…what is art, if not an attempt – poignant, desperate, joyful, inspired, breathless – to try to live? To procure rich encounters with that fragment of “Place” that stands for being alive? Encounters that are “worked with” enough to be a point of radiation for the incandescence of being, its presence in everything that is from its transcending of everything that is?”

    Time in a Bubble. As St. Augustine put it, as long as no one asks me, I know what it is. And like George Herbert’s Mr. Cogito, I want and hope to
    ”remain faithful to uncertain clarity”.

    Taking a bath in the Bubble Market,

    D. Fault

  10. Mark, I’m assuming that the additional 130 days to be paid back will come in the form of a bubble payment. And now, time, time, time, see what’s become of me for the doggeral:

    I am subprime,
    Just like LeeAnn Ryme—-(s)
    My bubble has burst
    Just like ol’ Will Durst
    But soon I will sail out
    On the wings of a bailout
    Safe for eternity
    Thanks to a beard-o named Bernake.
    And I’ll implement a mean plan
    Next time I meet Greenspan
    Everything’s subbin’ sub rosa subprime.

    I.N. Debt

  11. I hope. You are right. I just looked out my window at dawn and my apple tree appears to be an oak. When I was a kid working at Recordworks I must have sold about a bazillion copies of that Steve Miller album and it was my duty to disparage anything proportionally to its popularity, while muttering that all those idiots should get bitten on the ass by a Pere Ubu LP. I’m 55 now and I can say it… I think “Fly Like an Eagle” sounds really cool!

    Is a monumental birthday the one that marks the beginning of the 51st year? I’m glad that it’s the early universe that gets the bubble because I think things should be pretty at the dawn of time.

    Claude E. Future

  12. M. and L., you’re so right, both of you, and don’t I know it. T/here we were doing a Cavity search for signs of intelligent life in our Bubble, when Time moebius-stripped us. Now we’re getting bubbles blown up our Cavity. And by “blown up” I don’t mean photographically enhanced. I do mean though that it’s making me see stars, that is, light from worlds closed down long long long ago. I hope our Lucky Ol’ Sun is not the next to bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. I’m worried though. Bubblebelters say it is predicted in the Holy Bubble. (What does “Happy” Harry Cox have to say about it? He’s usually right when everyone else I know is wrong.)

    And speaking of photos that Time has not forgot but can’t find: Bodie was the lead howler in the canine recording pack Dog Hat. Most requested Halloween hits include: “The Wolf We Were” and “The Devil Made Me Wear It”. A photo of him would make the occasion feel like its old self again.

    L. Time Baumb

  13. Oh, and J.R., I forgot to mention, thanks for reminding me: ‘It’s the dimensional, stupid!’ And L., yeah, I hear ya: Bernake, baby, Bernake! They’re using Bernakes as cigar lighting money. Got a photo right here in my wallet of Bernake’s Baby. Ain’t it cute the way them horns shyly protrude from his glowing radioactive skull?

  14. It was an acacia tree inside my window in full bloom, causing me to sneeze, bursting this illusory bubble I believe to be my world. I see the clarity and beauty of the outdoors through the backsides of these poet men’s reflections. I see the trees behind me. In full bloom. Causing me to sneeze again. I can burst more bubbles if I can find the solution. Perhaps these men are looking out on the world and the acacia tree in full bloom and see my curious eyes outside the window pain. I wave. I smile. I sneeze.

  15. D.,

    Now that’s interesting. Very so. Your conception and image: the ‘backsides of reflections’. ‘You’ve got to look in to look out.’ I thought Milosz’s window would be right up your tree. The window which is timemulsameously inside and outside, the transparent threshold of each to the other. And there is that one tree (or is it two?) which people have been using as a window, and for which people have been windows, since, well you might say, since the pre-bubble dawn of windows.

    There is the text of a Moses-Sinai event, in its English translation the word “backside” has been used, a famous mistranslation. But here you come with ‘backsides of reflections’—a beautiful nuance image of meaning, and give me a window of unexpected reflection.

    R. Bo Writem


    I do not sleep. Not anymore. I am angelically unbalanced. Or, rather, my Egg of Time is. The Egg in which un-born and born are meant to balance—in the Egg it is meant to balance so I don’t have to, and from which memory comes alive, dreaming it constantly pushed up a Mountain. Only it is not a dream, but it is a Mountain. Without the ellipsis altering spherical touch of the angel, my little life is rounded like an egg, and with no effortless circular motion to change the Egg-motion up the Mountain—to change the dream of it, I should say. Elliptical, I do not sleep, and Time does not balance for me on the Mountain. I do not even dream of it. Not anymore.

    The Egg’s transparence, through which I enter but not the day because the day cannot, that is what used to be sleep. Not anymore. Now instead of me the Mountain enters, I outside, not attended by the angel’s art of balance, to carry them.

    An appreciative dabble of delight, the lost art to the balance of day and night, I am a dilettante of Time.


    A P.S. from the Puppet Party candidate: “My friends”, following the Beyouncin’ ball, I want from now on to be known as Sucha Farce. And thank you, “my friends”, for socializing my private insanity.


    Chapter One: Enemies From Heaven

    Mr. Tetragrammaton called to order his weekly report and strategy meeting. He looked around; there was still one member of his governing counsel missing from the meeting, a former close and trusted confidant of his, but whom now, due to some private misunderstanding, was on the outs. The Fixer arrived, late as usual.

    ”My friend The Fixer, where have you been?”

    “Oh, here and there, up and down, walking around the realm. I’ve been from where the sun don’t shine to where the light is too intense.”

    “Did you look in on Average Job? He is my perfect example. He always does everything just right, not too much, not too little, not early, not late, and I never have to ask him twice. He invests wisely and is the paragon of responsible.”

    The Fixer snorted a laugh through his nose.

    “What’s so funny?” Mr. Tetragrammaton asked derisively. “You doubt my word?”

    “Me, doubt? Now, that is funny, my old friend. I’ve been playing with your word ever since you first made the mistake of speaking, but I never doubt it. I am merely suggesting that if Average Job is your “perfect example”, that’s only because you gave him the will but not the vote. And he’s got it too easy, by far. Make his retirement savings, his children’s college fund disappear overnight, really put his averageness to the test, then you’ll see…”

    “What do you mean ‘then I’ll see’? See what? I already see everything!” Mr Tetragrammaton hated it when The Fixer pretended that there was something he, Mr. Tetragrammanton, had not foreseen.

    “Well then, if you already know the outcome, you and your precious Average Job have nothing to lose…”

    “Are you saying that you want to bet?” asked Mr. Tetragrammaton.

    “Did you say bet?” asked The Fixer, with that insinuating tone of his that said he knew Mr. Tetragrammaton’s secret weakness. The Fixer never said anything directly until someone else had already said he did.

    “I am already the supreme winner,” exclaimed Mr. Tetragrammaton, “why should I need to bet? I’d only be betting against myself!”

    The Fixer kept silent and with a look on his face as if he were innocent of what Mr. Tetragrammaton was talking about.

    “You never give up do, you? You still want to bet!” continued Mr. Tetragrammaton. “O.K. then. I bet you that whatever you do to test Average Job—“

    “—You mean whatever you do to test Average Job,” The Fixer interjected.

    “Yes, right, whatever I do to test Average Job, I bet you he remains loyally and completely Average.” Mr. Tetragrammaton and the Fixer clasped hands on their pact.

    “A better bet I could not ask for,” said The Fixer. “Win or lose, either way, I get the commission!” The Fixer turned away from Mr. Tetragrammton to hide a smile. ‘This is going to be fun,’ he thought to himself.


    Chapter Two: Trying To Catch A Falling Knife

    “The realm is so lovely this time of year, isn’t it? I especially love the foliage around Average Job’s house,” said The Fixer to Mr. Tetragrammaton. “Average Job’s children will be home, of course. Average Job can’t help minding his children’s business, he’s so afraid that you will not bless them with the success he feels they deserve for his sake. If you don’t mind my old friend, I’ll mosey on down, stick my nose in his business, see what kind of, ahem, October surprise I can come up with. He’ll never suspect me (here The Fixer paused for a chuckle); he thinks everything that happens to him is due to you.”

    “A bet is a bet, my friend,” Mr. Tetragrammaton agreeably replied. “Everything is fair game except Average Job’s life.”

    What happened next happened nearly all at once. Never afraid to play with fire, The Fixer worked fast. Average Job, his wife and his children, were at home and celebrating together the third quarter profits earned by the family business and in conjunction with their portfolio of investments. First, the Chief Financial Officer of Average Joe’s company called to say that suddenly the business had gone bankrupt; all its customers had cancelled their orders and their accounts, all the employees had immediately quit, he alone had stayed, but only to call Average Job and tell him the news. Then, as Average Job and his wife rushed out of the house to their car, intent on getting to Average Job’s office building, a lone employee from the warehouse where Average Joe kept his business’ merchandise, arrived to report that the warehouse had spontaneously burst into flames and that the building with its entire content had completely burned. Finally, while Average Job and his wife stood in their driveway with the lone employee, a tornado descended, as if out of nowhere, and within seconds leveled their house, killing their children inside.

    Stricken and in shock from his incomprehensible and catastrophic losses, Average Job could only think to say, “But I am the perfect example…”

    “How do you know you are “the perfect example”? Who told you that?” demanded Mrs. Average Job of her husband, and with a fury that strove to eclipse her own shock and grief.

    “To anyone who knows the true meaning of Average, it is obvious, I think. My prosperity has been the proof: it shows ideally what can happen when the Average is your ideal.”

    “Has it occurred to you, dear, that The Fixer might be involved in our sudden calamitous misfortunes?” Mrs. Average Job then asked, trying to provoke her husband to say something other than what his own ears wanted to hear.

    “The Fixer? No, not for a moment! He’s just a minor official, I have heard, and I, well, I have been the perfect example for Mr. Tetragrammaton. The Fixer couldn’t get involved at such a high level where my affairs are decided.”

    Mrs. Average Job remonstrated with her husband: “No matter how loyal, how faithful you are to the Average on earth, even if you are the perfect image of Average on earth, you will never be given a vote on what happens behind-the-Average scenes in Heaven!” “And I assure you,” she added with rage sharpened calm, and knowing she’d spoken aloud a truth that Average Job tried hard to suppress from his own awareness, “I assure you those who make the decisions there are not Average and what goes on there is anything but Average!”

    “Sure, I know, what is Beyond the Average Job is hidden from me. I had nothing when I started out—you remember, don’t you?–nothing except the skin on my bones. But Mr. Tetragrammaton told me the world was there for the making. And I made it, thanks to my dedication to the Average, and to the averageness of my dedication. With Mr. Tetragrammaton’s help, I turned that nothing into the Average!”

    “Always with you it’s ‘Mr. Tetragrammaton this’ and ‘Mr. Tetragrammaton that’…”

    ‘It’s one great system of Give and Take. Mr. Tetragrammaton, he gives and takes, gives and takes, and I am content to take when and what he gives.’

    “Is that all you’ve got, is that all you can say, that stupid old piety!? If that’s how you feel, you’re better off dead!”

    Though he did not say it, and could barely constrain himself from shouting it out to the sky, it was exactly how Average Job felt.

    That same night, in the hotel room to where he and his wife had retreated, kept awake by his pain and the stinging vehemence of his wife’s admonishment, Average Job repeatedly tried to convince himself of his belief in all the arguments he had recited to her. By the dawn, he knew he could not. It was like trying to catch a falling knife. When he went to wake his wife, to tell her that she was right after all, he found that she had died that night in her sleep. Only in that anguished moment did he realize he had been thinking and talking of his misfortunes as his alone when, in reality, those misfortunes had been as much Mrs. Average Job’s as they were his.

    Mrs. Average Job had said the unsayable. She alone had known better, but now she was gone and it was he alone who survived what she could not.


    Chapter Three: A Pre-Existing Condition

    Though many had heard of Average Job’s catastrophic decline, few chose to answere the call of the catastrophic in person. The few who did were Average Job’s three friends, each of whom traveled from where he resided: Als Flawed from Graspen, Goldorado, Iz NoFair from Brandname, Wishconsin, and Hedge O’Money from an exclusive enclave somewhere in Northeast Generica. Average Job claimed he needed no one. But as friends to Average Job’s crisis–for what better defined friends to one another than a shared crisis?—they knew Average Job needed them. As the three had planned, they arrived together.

    Average Job’s three friends did not recognize him at first, so changed had his inner ruin made him outwardly appear. Even near beside them, he appeared to be someone else, his bodily definition uncertain, like he was approaching from, or was it retreating into, a distance. There were angry pustulic eruptions on his skin, as if his own blood were rebelling from proper ciculation throughout his body. He scratched at the eczema that quickly formed, flaked, and reformed. The three friends saw that Average Job had rubbed ash into the prescribed ointment before applying it.

    Average Job’s three friends had come to act in unison with his affliction and grief, to abase themselves as he had, to weep with him, to be ash to his ash, dust to his dust. However their solidarity was inseparable from their need to see for themselves what remained of their friend after such unexpected, catastrophic misfortunes, which, for all they knew, could have been theirs. Seeing such ruination befall another, and one so close to them, ‘one of them’ in fact, reassured them of their still secure positions in the world. Whatever had stricken and ruined their friend Average Job, it had chosen him and not them. Perhaps, even, they had passed some test that Average Job had failed.

    Silence, each day, for seven days. Silence times silence equals silence. Minus the silence, silence remains. ‘What in the world is he waiting for?’ Average Job’s three friends asked themselves, asked each other. Maybe that was it: he was waiting for another world–to be made, to replace the one that he now lived in as if it were an above ground grave and the sky its limit. Seven days, time enough for a world to be made—that’s what they said, whereas only a few moments were needed for one life within it to be completely unmade. Average Job was as if at the summit of his own desert Mountain to which he had been called, but with no one or no reason to descend and return for, alone in a great Cloud of Obscurity wherein nothing was revealed to him.

    The three friends of Average Job, they each had much to say, were each near to bursting with rising torrents of words and the desire to let them flow forth. Why did not Average Job speak? There would be no new beginning for Average Job without the word to begin it. The three friends, not content with how Average Job’s silence imposed silence on them, each rehearsed (albeit silently) what they wanted to say. The silence of Average Job screamed louder each day, repelling and breaking his contending desire to articulate, each time it arose. ‘The silent scream,’ the three friends said, when they allowed themselves a respite away from Average Job’s unnamed vigil. ‘How predictable.’

    Average Job’s diagnosis after seven days of silence: it was all a pre-existing condition. He’d had it already when he was in his mother’s womb, while he was still asleep in the night of pre-birth. When, at last, he could open his mouth without the sound of his voice skewering him with the pain from his own heart, he spoke:

    “I must speak even if the attempt strangles me and even if in the end the silence devours all that I am to say. I would have been better off had I not been born. But I was not that lucky! The Average Job never is. Efface, therefore, my life before it was conceived and then born to be effaced in this life-effacing world! Give me that sleep which depends not on fatigue or the alternation of day and night and dwell me in that place in which no created light shines or scrutinizes. Let me be as I was before I was, a secret to myself! I would accept all fortunate futures extinguished in the common past of humankind, for then I could be, alone and free, beyond great and small, equal and unequal, unborn to past and future, the turbulent and jubiliant alike, nobody’s servant and still possess everything the greatest of kings ever possessed by living. How am I to make my way, when unseen hands unmake it then deceive me it is still there, there just for me, a way I may take? My way is like the breath of a stillborn infant. Rest agitates me; my shadow tries to tear itself away from my prisoned imprisoning body. I was terrified this day would come, the day the one I depended on would ambush me, run me down, corner me, allow me no escape from myself. Dead with the dead, and all without the interval between, now that would be the life! But Life is a killer. For Whom does it kill?”


    Chapter Four: Overheard At Night By Accident

    Als Flawed from Graspen, Goldorado was ready to answer Average Job the moment the last storming word of his invective had passed:

    In the past, you guided and comforted many, who sought you in their troubles, through their sufferings. You counseled them to be patient, to accept, to hope with confidence, to understand that often the justice and the mercy of Mr. Tetragrammaton either are indistinguishable or they each appear in the other’s guise of cause and effect. Don’t you remember? Why doesn’t what you said to them apply now to you?

    You seem to dare me, to dare anyone, to answer you! And it seems you would not accept an answer–assuming he would speak to you, even from Mr. Tetragrammaton himself. Unless, of course, it were the answer you want. But there is no answer to what you want. Are you in your defiance so outright dismissive that the words of any other, even a friend to you such as I am, may not contend with and defeat your certainties? Do you think that the Death you invoke will swallow the very breath of life in me and with it all the words to you my breath would convey? Do you say of me that I am naught but a cataloger of convenient pieties, picking clean the bones of the prophets, rechewing for you, and then placing in your mouth—as a mother bird chews the food for her young, the once choicest parts of their already well-chewed meat; that the juice and flavor of that meat is gone? That you only choke on what others have well digested before you? You eat of your breath that smells of your own hunger, yet you hunger to eat of this world like Death itself! That indeed is a contest of two hunger-artists extraordinaire.

    You think with your words, with your defiance, you can intimidate Mr. Tetragrammaton? Or that if you were silent long enough, he would be forced to make the first move? You are drunk! Your thoughts intoxicate your words so that once spoken your words intoxicate you!

    Listen now how I will interpret for you your silent desire, and the desire of your silence, out of which arose your great wind of words.

    You want–no, you demand that Mr. Tetragrammaton speak to you directly, face to face. Well then, maybe you should stop your word binging and your spewing it in his face. Who do you think you are!? O soul employed in the work of this world, and who thus employed live in a clay house, you should not throw the word of Mr. Tetragrammaton back in his face! Unless you want your clay house foreclosed on. Throughout your days of defiant silence, did you think that you could be, that you would be, answered by those who do not answer to flesh and blood mortals? Do you think your storm of words will as a great wind rise and overthrow them upon the heights where they dwell? And that when they fall, the answers you demand will fall upon you?

    Last night, while I slept faraway from this world, near to where the deepest sleep and the fullest wake touch and conjoin, it came to me, I heard it, by accident, as if I were overhearing what was being said to another, for I am not one, like a prophet, who receives a voice in a dream or night-vision. Even so, and just as it happens with those who receive such visions, my skeleton rattled with a tremendous fear, some reality ineffable neared itself to me, paused right before my face, the most gentlest of breaths—it felt to me like my mother’s as she’d say goodnight to me when I was a child, only this electrified my flesh with fear; it, whatever it was, was there unmoving before me, an appearance I could not define with my sight. I heard a voice, of such subtlety I could not comprehend how it could be speaking in words, and yet what I heard were spoken words:

    ‘Nothing can create or make itself, but for each thing that acts as if it ‘is’, thus appears to ‘be’, and though it cannot but do so since being itself compels it, there is a hidden cost. Here is that hidden cost made plain. And there are no exceptions, not even those rare ones who shadow the will of Mr. Tetragrammaton. Each and all are born, live, and die against their will. No one can be wise, for no wisdom is there, in the face of that.’

    Throughout your trial, for which you lament and and at which you rage when you should be happy, I see only The Great System at work: good is rewarded, bad is punished. The innocent are not punished. A farmer who plants turnips does not get apples. That’s just how it is. You have been judged, and judged fairly, though neither you nor I nor anyone can know for what or why or how…It’s an inside-out upside-down time, it’s not logical, it doesn’t make sense to you and your expectations, I know that’s what you think, but in reality it’s all going according to plan. When you study the System, it makes you wise in the way of its work, so I know. You got Mr. Tetragrammaton’s attention to receive a special education about faults and errors of which you were not aware. You should be happy to have been chosen like this! That shows how much Mr. Tetragrammaton cares for you. I say again, Average Job should be happy.

    If you would study the System, you would know this too. You are free to study it but you don’t. Do I not repeatedly urge you to attend my seminars or listen to the tapes? I gave you a signed first-edition copy of each of my books, and you won’t make the effort to read even one of them: Ad-Buys For The Adversary, Saving The System For A Rainy Day, Going Long On Selling Your Neighbor Short, Like Taking Credit From A Baby, and All Buy Myself (or Credit Where Credit Is Duped).

    As for me, I trust implicitly in how the Great System works. Mr. Tetragrammaton is perfect and wondrous in all his works and in how he wisely provides for everything.

    In the end, I foresee, the Great System will restore you and make you whole. In future, the Great System and Nature will be as partners in your ultimate peace and prosperity. The cycle that balances and harmonizes birth and death will bestow balance and harmony upon you. For you have still many years to harvest and in your final season yours will be an overflowing abundance of wealth; you will laugh and be without care, protected from conflict and strife, destruction and hunger, as if you had returned to the indivisible good of the original Garden.


    Chapter Five: The Shadow Of His Trial

    Average Job, though maybe only in his own mind, was still a lion equal to all his challengers, even in defense of a lost cause. He was ready to reply.

    What? You promise me that, ‘in the end’, I will be as if returned to the Garden? You believe your own books too much, I think, and act as if just writing them has made you a prophet.

    I am not drunk. I am deathly sick but not permitted to expire! Can’t you tell the difference, my friend? It seems not. Mr. Tetragrammaton has got me out in the open, unprotected, and uses me for target practice. I am systemically sick from the poison tipped arrows he fires at me, at will, each one a direct hit. The poison (which you piously persist in calling ‘compassion’) courses through my body, carried by my blood from toe to brain; it strangles my breath. Day after day, I am nearly crushed by bearing the ruins of my former self. Whose words would not stagger brokenly, as if in a drunken delirium, in the effort to resist and not collapse completely beneath that crushing weight of a mass, the unforgiving gravity, of sorrow greater than the whole world weighs? I am, merely one man, an Average Job, being made the scale for Justice itself. Or is it Justice and its scale themselves that are on trial here, and I am exhibit A for the prosecution? Weigh the sands of all the world’s seashores on one plate of the scale and the heaped remains of my total catastrophe on the other, and, I tell you, those sands will sit upon the scale like a single breath, whereas beneath my life’s remains the scale will break and along with it the so-called Justice it presumes to weigh.

    The ancestors of our people, in the desert, only had the Mountain held over them in suspense, but I have had the Mountain dropped on top of me! At its summit Mr. Tetragrammaton jumps up and down on it, and for what? I’ve already accepted his laws. Now, all these years later, it’s me he wants to bury? Then is my compliance the same as non-compliance? My entire life I have lived observantly in the shadow of that Mountain. Its shadow has always been enough to remind me to comply. Why now does Mr. Tetragrammaton violate his own laws and go to war against me? He should be protecting me from such unprovoked attacks! Is this what you mean, my friend, when you tell me the Great System works? So all I have to do then, as the blurb says on the back cover of your books, is to ‘embrace the process’? Mr. Tetragrammaton does not seem to have ‘embraced the process’! I guess he has not read your books either.

    The truth is, my friends, my multiple catastrophes reassure you, yes, they do, I see it in your eyes; they console you even, as you believe that the status quo, the System, whose devoted servants you claim to be, requires sacrifices. Seeing me here so fallen and debased, you have your proof (you think such a thing can be proved!) that even the most hidden fault is duly punished and that your conduct has been judged acceptable in the backroom dealings wherein Mr. Tetragrammaton settles his accounts with give and take. Now that I have served my sacrificial purpose, what am I to you but as an unwanted orphan child robbed of its inheritance? You congratulate the thieves and make the defenseless child responsible for his own loss!

    You presume to but you do not speak for Mr. Tetragrammaton. Your professed friendship is like a desert mirage, the promise of an oasis with fresh water, but the discovery of its illusion–the illusion and pretence of your friendship, that is, is crueler than the mirage of an oasis when it abandons the solitary wanderer delirious with thirst; your deceit is a deliberate betrayal of me. I have not asked you for anything, to lessen your livelihood and well being for my sake. Even so, you cannot speak with me as I am, to simply companion me in my catastrophe, with kindness, without recrimination. The speech of one who is hopeless and desperate, you condemn as unacceptable, a violation of the decreed order, while your own words, which presume to arbitrate the true and false of my life, those are words you posture with as if spoken on the authority of Mr. Tetragrammaton himself.

    And still not one of you can tell me what I have done wrong!

    Death seems to be the only point to all this, anyway. So if Mr. Tetragrammaton wants me dead, let him come and kill me himself, and not send his flunkies to do it but botch the job. No trial of my error, no arguments for and against, to be served by my friends who’ve come to act as my lawyers, while also seeking to buy the favor of Mr. Tetragrammaton with declarations and praises of how great, how benevolent is his System. All those flattering words stored up: a safe investment for the future. Put in a good word for me while you’re at it!

    If you insist on playing at being messengers from Mr. Tetragrammaton himself, then next time you speak with him tell him this from me:

    You want to bury me back there in the long ago with the generation of the Desert, that’s fine with me. At least give me the dignity of taking my last breath from me by yourself. I am just a day laborer, in a shadowland, a hired foot soldier; my one purpose being to provide another body to be sent into the maw of slaughter. Day and night, each the other’s shadow, and I the dividing line between. I am impatient from my menial work to be done and for day to end, so I may rest; night and rest are shortened by my dread of the next day, which may be my last. In my dreams, I am pursued while I hunt for hope; it is when I awake from my short sleep that my nightmares begin.

    My life is just a breath, that’s all, a breath loaned out and to be re-collected by its owner. I did not make this condition so well made for complaint. So, yes, I will use this loan of breath to lament my breath. Must every moment of existence be devised as some unexplained test? Is that the reason for which you Mr. Tetragrammaton gives us each a span of days and nights for constant toil and worry? Have you, in fact, forgotten what it is you first purposed us for? If there is an unforgivable fault in me, is it not really the fault of you keeping it completely hidden beyond my awareness? Does it amuse you to use me as an argument against yourself?

    You three, you spy into my every move, certain you can see what it was that merited this judgment against me, and Mr. Tetragrammaton too, he looks at me with the eye of the invisible I am sure, but all of you, look as you may, I am already gone.


    Chapter Six: Asked And Answered

    Iz Nofair from Namebrand Wishconsin, with his skill at succinct rebuttal, replied to Average Job.

    What a great wind of words you do conjure even as you protest how your borrowed breath of life is weakening each moment! If you built a Tower of your words and could ascend by them to the highest heaven, you would be no nearer to contend against the judgment served upon you. You speak as though you think that massed together your whirlwords have the power to uproot the foundations of the earth. Or even more absurd that the power of your word is such as to compel Mr. Tetragrammaton to put himself on trial before you!

    You forget, my friend, what was remembered and transmitted by all the generations upon which you and I are built, back to the founders of our people: There is no bailout, no hand out, not for the guilty. For the guilty largesse is cut off. The fate of the forgetful is that, like everyone’s, their green times last but a few days, but they, in their forgetfulness, do not profit from the knowledge of the generations from which they are made. Our whole life it is as if we were just born the day before, our days like a shadow that diminishes and disappears into night; and what do we know compared to all that was known before us by those to whom we owe our lineage? All around you—you can see it with your own eyes!—is the evidence of how the Supremely Just deals with the just and the unjust; their paths diverge exactly as do the paths of life and death, a divergence which in itself enacts the decree of Justice.

    All the sacrifices you made for your children did not purify them, did not protect them from themselves, did not appease or make up for or efface their concealed fault—whatever it was, it certainly was, and thus overruled and impeached their otherwise acceptable thoughts and deeds. If, despite all your sacrifices and offerings, you failed as a parent to your children, then how could your efforts succeed to influence the decision of judgment in their favor? They were not innocent of trading in opposition to the prescribed interests of Mr. Tetragrammaton. They traded away Mr. Tetragrammaton’s protective interest in them, and what they traded for in return condemned them by their own hands.

    There is no Mountain suspended over you, ready to crush you despite your compliance; no such threat stalks your thoughts and actions. Don’t be ridiculous! However, for you, the only way–that is, if you want your future to compensate you with prosperity double that of your past, I say the only way is to conform to what your predecessors established. It has reached you through an unbroken chain of custody from Mr. Tetragrammton himself. Seek what they accepted to seek, accept as they did how accounts are settled; thereby your merit will reaccrue and compound itself, and your accounts will be made whole and then blessed with double the increase. You will laugh twice as much as you have wept. Whereas many houses which now are busily adding new additions will fail at their foundations and collapse into dust and debris. Then the earth upon which they were built will refuse to recognize them and reject them too.

  23. The group is the best example of defying gravity while jumping off a cliff in a unified effort.
    It’s nice to be part of a whole.
    Have to hate breaking up a set to make a simple point of individual thought.

    The constant build up of others’ thoughts, worry, and lack of imagination are the duty necessary for group acceptance.

    The main event has not quite begun, please be advised that there will be a short delay. Had this been an actual announcement, you would be wondering where you are to begin. Anyone should be able to be able to react in a confused manner, given the clear directions.

    Know what I mean?

  24. On a confused day, you can feel clear forever. The meaning fuses the clear and the confused, but doesn’t always take directions well. Clear, like magic tricks, relies on misdirection; confusion a subset of clear that is greater than the whole. And, I’m sure, you know the old saying ‘a point is also a line’, which has infinite implications. Where to draw the line, then?

  25. Pingback: My Domain

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